A decline in the home-ownership rate of young adults in Great Britain is an issue that has risen to the top of the political agenda. Chances of owning home in UK have more than halved in 20 years, Institute for Fiscal Studies says. Today’s young adults are significantly less likely to own a home at a given age than those born only five or 10 years earlier. At the age of 27, those born in the late 1980s had a homeownership rate of 25 per cent, compared with 33 per cent for those born five years earlier (in the early 1980s) and 43 per cent for those born 10 years earlier (in the late 1970s). The falls in homeownership have been sharpest for young adults with middle incomes. In 1995–96, 65 per cent of those aged 25–34 with incomes in the middle 20 per cent for their age owned their own home. Twenty years later, that figure was just 27 per cent. The key reason for the decline is the sharp rise in house prices relative to incomes. Mean house prices were 152 per cent higher in 2015–16 than in 1995–96 after adjusting for inflation. By contrast, the real net family incomes of those aged 25–34 grew by only 22 per cent over the same 20 years. This increase in house prices relative to family incomes explains the fall in homeownership for young adults. The likelihood of a young adult owning their own home given how their income compares with house prices in their region is little changed from twenty years ago. But in 2015–16 almost 90 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds faced average regional house prices of at least four times their income, compared with less than half 20 years earlier. At the same time, 38 per cent faced a house-price-to-income ratio of over 10, compared with just nine per cent 20 years ago. In housing matters, there is always a mixture of social, economic and even cultural factors. Whilst the IFS statistics show a change in the demographics of homeownership, ‘on the ground’ we are seeing increasing numbers of young professionals choosing to rent; The improved standards of rented property married with the flexibility renting offers young adults, make it an attractive option in an economy with less job security and a willingness among young people to move for new career opportunities. The Scottish Household Survey data showed that the proportion of households in the private rented sector has grown steadily from 5% in 1999 to 15.4% in 2016 and continues to grow. All of these factors and others such as mortgage availability, are affecting the sector and reflected in the substantial growth of the Private Rented Sector in Scotland in recent years.

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